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Interview With Cesare Catania: Physical or Digital Artist?

The Artist

Cesare Catania is a contemporary artist born in Italy and who, like many other artists today, now feels like a citizen of the World. Born as a painter of abstract and informal art, he soon revealed himself to critics as a much more sophisticated artist, first showing himself as a sculptor of geometric art, then a hyper-realist painter and in recent years also a digital artist and video artist too. And he does all this firsthand. In artistic production he does not delegate. He does. He creates. He is inspired and transforms his emotions and those of others into design and matter.

The Painter Cesare Catania

Born in Milan in 1979, he leads a process of traditional studies, not strictly linked to art but more aimed at mathematics, science, engineering, all disciplines which, together with his love for music and photography, soon give a true, genuine artist is brought to light, an artist who until now has allowed himself to be influenced mainly by himself and not by artistic fashions or the contemporary art market.

We interviewed him for you.

Cesare, how do emotions arise within you and where do inspirations come from?

My approach to life, and consequently to art, is absolutely free and free of superstructures.

I try to be open to the world around me and try to have as few prejudices.

I believe that emotions arise in all of us. You just have to be able to listen to them…

In my case I listen to them in silence, I just try to understand what is moving me and why it does so. I then wait for this kind of emotion to mature and become, as I say, “round”. The moment this shapeless mass of feelings sediments into something deeper takes the shape of a sphere, then at that point for me the emotion has become an inspiration and deserves to be expressed. How do I do it? Well…. In many ways: it can become a sculpture, a painting, both, or first a painting and then an NFT…. It depends on how I feel and how I think that kind of emotion can best be expressed. “At its best” for me, not for others…

“Harlequin in the Land of Giants” – Oil on Canvas (2017)

Do you define yourself as a Physical or Digital artist?

I know I am an artist because I have chosen art as an expressive means through which to give voice to my most intimate world, between emotions, feelings and thoughts. It therefore matters little whether I am a physical or digital artist. And it matters little, at the same time, how art in turn manifests itself, in what form or product, what type of production (painting, sculpture, digital creations) it gives life to.

In this sense, therefore, art is the means that conveys the artist’s internal microcosm but does not depend at all on the “medium” that the artist chooses to reveal himself to the world.

Figurative or material art, oil painting, watercolor, mixed techniques, sculpture in marble or wood, glass etc, NFTs and creations from the Metaverse, and much more:  what matters is that all these expressive forms have value and ability to penetrate.

By virtue of this thought of mine, I love the most daring experiments, I appreciate the most disparate contaminations and I am open to the most unusual influences: for this reason I often change the instrument through which I “work” with emotions. I feel receptive and loving challenges.

Let’s say that sometimes I am a sculptor, sometimes a painter and sometimes a digital artist: it depends, in short, on the technique I choose to use… but it is always me, Cesare Catania, curious and experimental, who in the constant search for new horizons and expressive means , however, wants to try its hand at a production capable of remaining coherent and faithful to itself over time and in its principles, while changing the playing field or means through which it can be enjoyed from time to time.

In general, however, I don’t like definitions, because they often end up being enclosures in which it is impossible to express oneself fully.

The Artist Cesare Catania

When you think about NFTs and the Metaverse for the future, what do you think of?

Certainly NFTs and the Metaverse have given a new life to art and artists in general.

I had been creating digital art since 2017 and I did it mainly for educational purposes to explain my cubist works in a clearer and more defined way. At the beginning I didn’t believe that that kind of digital processing could become a recognized work of art. However, I soon realized that, at least from a personal and emotional point of view, the production of 3D animations gave me the opportunity to explore new fields of expression compared to traditional art, as if the two subjects were complementary to each other. And this was already before there was talk of NFTs and the Metaverse…

The canvas and physical matter had the limits of size, space and gravity. 3D art and crypto art are not…

NFTs were initially considered mostly a speculative instrument. This served to bring public opinion’s attention to a topic that in fact could have been considered “niche”. So from a certain point of view it was good that the press and finance realized that art deserved more attention. On the other hand, however, it was clear that monkeys and figurines could not be considered works of art like digital artistic creations or oil on canvas. I therefore believe that the concepts of NFT and Metaverse are still at the beginning, in the sense that we are approaching a historical moment in which both devices and people are approaching this world in a finally organic way. The initial explosion was forced. People and artists, the real ones obviously, need to metabolise this expressive medium and make it their own.

Therefore, welcome to the Metaverse and to NFTs understood as pieces of art and to be collected, as long as these are actually the result of inspiration, a sedimentation of emotion and an artistic production consistent with the thoughts of the artist himself. And this obviously presupposes that the physical artist will also have to become digital and that the digital artist will also have to become physical. Probably in the future there will no longer be a distinction between the two types. The artist is one and that’s it…

single frame of “Harlequin in the Land of Giants” B Version – NFT and digital artwork

Biography of the Artist Cesare Catania

Cesare Catania was born in Milan on 1st February 1979. He spent much of his life in his native city, where he developed both in his private life and during his course of studies, a real aptitude for graphic and pictorial arts.

Early childhood clearly shows, as well as the visual arts, his passion for mathematics and music, two disciplines each other so different yet for Cesare Catania so similar.

His grandfather violinist transmits the passion for musical instruments and at the age of nine the growing contemporary artist begins taking piano lessons. Within the next 10 years of studying the piano he develops a passion for rigor and creativity of classical music.

Contemporary Artist and Love of Engineering

In 1998 Cesare Catania enrolled in the faculty of engineering where he improved the perspective and isometric studies and learned to observe the problems and the reality surrounding them by breaking down all the shapes into simple three-dimensional polygons. This ability to break down and to mould solids that are around him are found in the paintings of the contemporary artist, which express reality and feelings of both two-dimensional overlapping plans (see for example the paintings “144 : Jazz Trio” – 2014, “Nice (tribute to Matisse and Chagall)” – 2015) and with the elegant and harmonious approach of solid and curvilinear shapes (such as in the painting “Summer readings (tribute to Pierluigi Nervi)” – 2016). 

His love for geometry and mathematical sciences in general soon brought him closer to sculpture. A geometric and rigorous sculpture in its shapes and often eclectic in its colors and choice of materials: rusty iron, silicone and acrylic, mineral pigments, natural rope, marble dust, plaster and cement. These are the materials that distinguish the most important sculptural productions.

We remember only some of his most famous sculptures, such as “The Mouth of Etna“, created in 5 versions; “The Heart of the Earth” made in 5 different versions, “The Embrace F Version” (a monumental sculpture made by steel), “Absence” and “Presence” (belonging to the “Feelings and Emotions” collection). And then we find the latest collection entitled “The Other Side of the Moon”, in which the Italian artist puts himself to the test with new materials such as Murano glass and wood, demonstrating an innate artistic versatility.

Contemporary Artist as an Intermediary Between Art, Science, Mathematics, Photography, Music, Engineering and Technology

As well as a strong aptitude for both technical sciences and artistic sciences, Cesare Catania matures over the years a particular passion for photography. In particular, his attention is captured by the colors and the camera’s ability to capture in one click all the strength and dynamism of moving scenes. The same attraction to the dynamism is easily seen in many of his paintings, both in the formal ones and in the informal and abstract ones. In his “The Violinist of Barcelona – Version B” – 2016, for example, the artist portrays the protagonist just as in a photograph in which the orchestra and the background disappear to give way to an eccentric musician in an immortalized motion in a stationary strong and intense image.

“The Violinist from Barcelona – B Version” (Painting – year 2016)

Studies in mathematics and engineering together with a passion for art in general give rise to works that blend sculpture and painting, oil painting and innovation (use of silicone and acrylic-based materials). All this to create three-dimensional works that “literally come out of the canvas”.

With an eye always turned to the future, the artist approached digital art already in 2017, initially using it as a tool to explain his Cubist works, then giving the digital product its own artistic form. In fact, the artist understands that thanks to digital it is possible to express emotions and sensations that are difficult to express through physical art. Thus began his digital journey which led him to become, especially with the advent of NFTs, one of the most influential crypto artists in the World.

Among his most famous NFTs we remember: “The Harlequin in the Land of the Giants (B Version), a short film of almost 3 minutes taken from one of his own paintings from 2017.

“The Heart of the Earth”, “The Cage” (B Version), “The Mouth of Etna” (G Version), The Harlequins”, “The Man Who Does not See” (the latter officially presented for the first time in Venice in April 2022). All of his NFTs have a strong connection to his physical art, but none of them are ever replicas of him. Indeed, for Cesare Catania digital art becomes a booster to excite and get excited.

“The Cage” (A Version) – Year 2013 – Physical Artwork

“The Cage” (B Version) – Year 2022 – Digital Artwork and NFT

Contemporary Artist and His Techniques

Cesare Catania often prepares his canvases with real projects and static studies, so as to adhere to the canvas in a complete and lasting way a fragile and difficult material to handle such as chalk. The latter in many of his paintings is reinforced with nails and nets to follow the outline of the design, highlighting the ability of the contemporary artist to fuse together creativity and capacity to rationalize and to break down the shapes of the painting. In the “Lisbon Zoo” for example the author portrays, in a vision of overlapping levels, animals such as an elephant, a giraffe and a bull. These, made from chalk and painted with strong acrylic colors, fill the scene of three overlapping levels and in a dynamic way. 

“Lisbon Zoo” (3D Painting – Year 2015)

Cesare Catania’s paintings are a “still image” of actions and feelings, extreme synthesis between obscurity and attention to detail. Fascinated by modern art, from architecture, from cubism and from painting masters from the classical age, Cesare Catania’s artistic maturity is still evolving; always looking for new techniques to make the most of his inspirations.